Tony Popovic feels his Western Sydney Wanderers are being punished for their success after his weary troops went down 3-0 to Melbourne Victory on Friday night.
The Wanderers were playing their seventh match in 20 days and were backing up less than 48 hours after Wednesday night’s win over Melbourne City.
It’s been a hectic schedule for the club all season, which has seen them win the ACL plus travel to Morocco for the FIFA Club World Cup, causing a fixture backlog.
“It was the same last year but because we were successful everybody brushes it aside. Seven games in 20 days, it's not the 45-hour turnaround that's the big issue,” Popovic said.
“You'd really want something to be done but the FFA didn't expect us to win the Asian Champions League because when we came back we had three days then had to go to Wellington and then Perth (the week after).
“You would have thought they would think ‘if these guys do get to a final let's help them out’.
"It's been difficult and the fixture pile up isn't ideal. We missed the chance to play games in January because of the Asian Cup. If there is a solution we would love one and so would everyone else. It's not just our club it will be someone else that will have to put up with this.”
Despite the heavy defeat, Popovic said he couldn’t be prouder of his side who pushed Victory for the first hour before being over-run late on.
"We lost the game and we have to accept that but certainly for most of the first half we were outstanding and I don't know how we came in 1-0 down,” Popovic said.
“In the second half for 15 minutes we were excellent again but the game changed when they scored the second. They punished us with their quality.
"[Yusuki] Tanaka and Nikolai [Topor-Stanley] had no right to play tonight and if I had a chance to leave them out as well I would have as they are running on empty. But they are all putting their hands up to play.”
Popovic gave special praise to his new-look midfield which was missing injured Mateo Poljak and the rested Yojiro Takahagi.
“You looked at our midfield, we had Yianni Perkatis, Jason Trifiro and Nick Kalmar in there. They've got [Carl] Valeri, [Mark] Milligan and [Gui] Finkler,” Popovic said.
“No disrespect to our boys but when you look at the first 60 minutes they dominated that midfield and that's a credit to them that they played that well.”
There’s no rest for the Wanderers who head to Korea this weekend for Wednesday night’s ACL clash against FC Seoul.They arrive back in Australia on Friday and take on Newcastle Jets away the next day in a match which could determine who finishes with the wooden spoon.